Sandymount Lime Kilns Complex

15 And 16 Sandymount Road And 1299 Highcliff Road, Sandymount, Dunedin, Otago

  • Sandymount Lime Kilns Complex, Sandymount.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga. Taken By: Sarah Gallagher. Date: 29/07/2021.
  • Sandymount Lime Kilns Complex, Sandymount. Middle Kiln. View from the west.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga. Taken By: Sarah Gallagher. Date: 29/07/2021.
  • Sandymount Lime Kilns Complex, Sandymount. Middle Kiln. View from the north.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga. Taken By: Sarah Gallagher. Date: 29/07/2021.
  • Sandymount Lime Kilns Complex, Sandymount. Bottom Kiln. Firebox.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga. Taken By: Sarah Gallagher. Date: 29/07/2021.
  • Sandymount Lime Kilns Complex, Sandymount. Top kiln.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga. Taken By: Sarah Gallagher. Date: 29/07/2021.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 377 Date Entered 2nd April 2004 Date of Effect 20th July 2022 Date of Last Review 30th June 2022

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Pt Lot 1 DP 22451 (RT OT14B/1181), Pt Sec 54 Blk III Otago Peninsula District (RT OT271/111), Pt Sec 37 Blk II Otago Peninsula District (RT OT268/194) and Pt Sec 5 Blk III Otago Peninsula District (RT OT14B/1180), Legal Road, Otago Land District and the structures and archaeological sites associated with the Sandymount Lime Burning Area, thereon. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the List entry report for further information).

City/District Council

Dunedin City

Region

Otago Region

Legal description

Part of Pt Lot 1 DP 22451 (RT OT14B/1181), part of Pt Sec 54 Blk III Otago Peninsula District (RT OT271/111), part of Pt Sec 37 Blk II Otago Peninsula District (RT OT268/194) and part of Pt Sec 5 Blk III Otago Peninsula District (RT OT14B/1180), Legal Road, Otago Land District

Location description

Upper kiln - I44/83 – (OT14B/1181) E 1416907 N 4917532 (NZTM)

Middle kiln – I44/84 – (OT271/111) - E 1416903 N 4917677 (NZTM)

Bottom kiln – I44/85 – (OT268/194) - E 1416821 N 4917870 (NZTM)

Tramway – I44/81 – (OT14B/1180) - E 1416891 N 4917616 (NZTM)

Limestone Crushing Plant - I44/447 - (OT14B/1180) - E 1416561 N 4917444 (NZTM)

Summaryopen/close

Like a rumpled duvet the Otago Peninsula is a striking landscape of hills and valleys and precipitous cliffs striated with dry stone walls and subject to wind ‘nine days out of ten.’ The lime kilns complex at Sandymount on the Peninsula is an outstanding example of mid-late 19th century European industry that exploited materials for the development of the land for the building and roading industries. The kilns, quarries and associated archaeological sites date between 1865-73 are of historical and technological significance in what is an outstanding archaeological landscape.

Both iwi history and archaeological evidence show Māori occupation in the Ōtākou Otago region over an extended period, with the inhabitants utilising a wide variety of natural resources from the diverse environment. Kāi Tahu mana whenua is recognised over a large part of Te Wai Pounamu. Kāti Māmoe and Waitaha whakapapa and shared occupation are always acknowledged. Prior to and at the onset of European arrival there were numerous settlements about the coastal margins of the Otago Peninsula. Ōtākou was considered as having one of the highest concentrations of mana whenua in the south from 1769 to 1836 and is said to have had up to 2000 inhabitants in the early nineteenth century.

Walter Riddell (1837-1922) was the first European settler in Sandymount in 1864 and began clearing the land for cropping while also establishing a farm. An outcrop of limestone ran from this property to the northwest. As well as being a useful building material, limestone was quarried for burning to create quicklime which could be used in the agricultural and construction industries. Kilns were built to burn the lime near to quarries and often included tramways to move the stone from quarry to kiln, and kiln to a loading or storage area. It’s likely there were two lime burning operations in Sandymount with the upper two kilns (I44/83 and I44/84) built by local stonemason William Dick (1837-1921) and under the operation of lime burner James McDonald (1840-1934) both on his own land and the land of Riddell. The other operation relates to the lower kiln (I44/85) possibly built by stonemason William Robertson (1812-1902) senior and his sons on land owned by Robert Stewart and operating as Robertson brothers from the Glenmore Lime Kilns, Peninsula during 1873.

The exact dates of construction of these kilns are not clear. James McDonald began testing lime in the area from at least 1865. He leased land from Riddell from 1870-1890 and is recorded as burning lime commercially in 1870. The kilns vary in size but are all pot kilns with three chambers (charging bowl, firebox and drawing eye compartment) which suited the steep hillsides into which they were built. The upper and middle kilns are similar in their construction, mortared limestone run on course cladding the brick lined kilns, but vary in their size, the middle kiln being monumental. The lower kiln employs a different construction method where the stonemason used a random rubble method incorporating limestone and volcanic tuff which strongly supports the interpretation that the lowest kiln was built by different stone masons.

The Milburn Lime and Cement Company took over the kilns from McDonald when he joined the company and decreased production as deposits in North Otago were developed. Lime burning in Sandymount ended around 1938, the lime crushing plant was demolished in 1974 and in 1976 the middle kiln and land were donated to the Otago Peninsula Trust by then owners, New Zealand Cement Holdings Ltd. Fundraising saw the kiln restored and interpretation designed. The kiln sites remain accessible to the public to view today (the upper kiln is viewable only from the public road) and are well known features of the Otago peninsula landscape.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The structures represent the lime burning industry, integral in the nineteenth century to the production of lime for mortar and for agricultural purposes. The kilns reflect an important element of New Zealand's industrial history. These are the earliest surviving examples of lime kilns on the peninsula, an activity vital to the nineteenth century building and agricultural industries. These complexes also incorporate a knowledge of the mining, brick making, and transportation technologies used historically in New Zealand. This information can be cross referenced with the technologies used in Europe to exhibit any local or national intuitions or modifications to the techniques used due to differing materials (or lack thereof). The Lime Kiln complex is tied into the historical and archaeological landscape which conveys a past cultural ideology related to the British Industrial Revolution. The Hereweka/Harbour Cone and Sandymount areas are a well-preserved example of the capitalist ideals of the settlers, which resulted from the Scottish Enlightenment.

Aesthetic Significance or Value

The outstanding landscape affording stunning views of the Otago Harbour and inlets on the peninsula. The landscape has been significantly altered by European settlement through clearing forests and vegetation for farming, milling, and mining. This has created a picturesque and awe-inspiring windswept environment, the area where the band of limestone sits is scarred by mining which has softened overtime. The upper and middle kilns are particularly impressive structures, built from the land they are situated in.

Technological significance

The lime kilns have technological value in illustrating the nineteenth century system for producing lime. The kilns provide important information about the little-known historic lime burning industry in New Zealand and much can be learned from the construction of the kilns and the entire complex of kilns, quarries, charge deposits and spoil dumps. A better understanding of the lime created from these kilns, can possibly lead to linking with historic masonry structures which used lime products in their creation (such as mortar, render or plaster).

Archaeological Significance or Value

The Otago peninsula is a remarkably intact archaeological landscape reflecting 19th century settlement. The Sandymount lime kilns an associated sites form an important part of the establishment of an industry in a fledgeling town. The kilns provide important information about the little-known historic lime burning industry in New Zealand and much can be learned from the construction of the kilns and the entire complex of kilns, quarries, charge deposits and spoil dumps. A better understanding of the lime created from these kilns, can possibly lead to linking with historic masonry structures which used lime products in their creation (such as mortar, render or plaster).

Architectural Significance or Value

The top and middle kilns are believed to have been built by well-known local stonemason William Dick. The monumental scale and design of the middle kiln is of particular significance with its castle-like structure. The kilns are a fine example of stone masonry and the middle kiln is particularly acknowledged with its tapered circular stonework.

Social Significance or Value

The high community value is shown by the gifting of one the kilns to the Otago Peninsula Trust, and the community-based restoration of one the kilns in the 1970s. The kilns continue to be promoted as a tourist attraction on the Otago Peninsula and are utilised for learning outside the classroom.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history

The kilns and associated archaeological sites represent the important lime burning industry which produced an essential component for the mortar traditionally used when building with brick or masonry. This use of lime was widespread in New Zealand throughout the last forty years of the nineteenth century

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for the place

The middle kiln in particular has been in the care of the Otago Community trust for nearly 50 years and they continue to care for this on behalf of the wider community

(f) The potential of the place for public education

The middle kiln is accessible to the public and the upper kiln and lime crushing plant site are viewable from Sandymount road. Both provide excellent opportunities for educational and tourism experiences and the story of lime burning from quarrying to transportation from the site.

(g) The technical accomplishment, value, or design of the place

The technical accomplishment of this site can be appreciated in how the kilns follow the outcrop of limestone and the construction techniques employed to create structures that fit into the hillside they were quarried from. It demonstrates the skills of the stone masons who successfully adapted the standard kiln design to this site.

(i) The importance of identifying historic places known to date from an early period of New Zealand settlement

The Otago peninsular was a sought-after area of habitation for new settlers seeking to make a living farming in the Dunedin area. Lime burning was an important industry in the early days of European settlement.

(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places

The Sandymount lime burning area is a rare example of a cluster of kilns, quarries and associated archaeological sites that illustrate the process of lime burning from mining to burning and processing. Two of the kilns are of particularly high quality but the archaeological remains particularly at the lower kiln may yet provide important information about the methods of lime burning.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural area

This site tells the story of several key people and their families in the small Sandymount community, their reliance on each other to develop their farms and industries. The lime burning industry, while not the major industry in this area, is significant for its contribution to our understanding of how people lived and worked in a growing economy.

Summary of Significance or Values

The kilns and associated archaeological sites comprising the Sandymount Lim Kiln Complex reflect an important element of New Zealand's industrial history. Little information exists about the historic lime burning and cement industries in New Zealand and these are Otago Peninsulas earliest surviving examples of lime kilns, an activity vital to the nineteenth century agricultural and building industries. As a complex they have the potential to provide knowledge about the history of the building industry and technologies of the nineteenth century. The high community value is shown by the gifting of the middle kiln to Otago Peninsula Trust, and the community-based restoration of one the kilns in the 1970s. It is promoted as a tourist attraction on the Otago Peninsula. The kilns are a fine example of stonemasonry with their tapered circular stonework and with their associated archaeological sites are of outstanding archaeological and historical significance.

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Construction Professionalsopen/close

Dick, William

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Robertson, William

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Early History

Both iwi history and archaeological evidence show Māori occupation in the Ōtākou / Otago region since the 12th century. Tradition tells us the atua Tū-te-rākiwhanoa discovered the wrecked celestial waka of Aoraki (Te Waka o Aoraki / South Island) and carved out places for people to live, including Muaupoko / Otago Peninsular. In another telling, the atua Kahukura was believed to have shaped the Otago coastline, eaten out the harbour and thrown up the earth either side thus forming the western shore and the peninsula. The harbour was shallow before Europeans arrived and provided abundant resources for hapū. Prior to and at the onset of European arrival there were numerous settlements about the coastal margins of the Otago Peninsula. Ōtākou was considered as having one of the highest concentrations of mana whenua in the south from 1769 to 1836 and is said to have had up to 2000 inhabitants in the early nineteenth century. The peninsula was once heavily forested with large totara, rimu, beech and matai and was populated by moa.

Taylor reported settlements at Pukekura, Te Rua a titiko, Te Rauone, Tahakopa, Omate, and Waipepeke on the Otago headlands. There were contemporaneous kaika at Puketuroto / Hoopers Inlet and Makahoe / Papanui Inlet. Makahoe was an important mahinka kai site and woodworking area. There was a significant nohoaka at Orau / Sandfly Bay which was a birding area in the 15th century. Black-backed gull eggs were collected from the cliff faces from the heads to Pikiwhara (Piki Whara) / Sandy Mount. Following the arrival of European sealers in the first decades of the 19th century saw Māori trade with them, cultivating and supplying potatoes, flax, pigs, and fresh water. Independently Māori traded with Sydney supplying dried and salted fish, port, and tītī. A successful whaling station was established at Te Umu Kurī / Wellers Rock by the Weller brothers, who married Ōtākou women and worked with local Māori.

The signing of the Otago Deed between representatives of the New Zealand Company and 25 chiefs occurred at Kōpūtai/Port Chalmers on 31 July 1844 and saw the sale of a half million acres for £2,400 ($661,324). This purchase included the Muaupoko / Otago Peninsula, with a reserve for Ngāi Tahu Māori established at Ōtākou at the northern end of the peninsula. During the 1879 Smith-Nairn Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Ngāi Tahu land claims, Ngāi Tahu kaumātua recorded Makahoe / Papanui Inlet as a salt-water channel where pātiki (flounders), makō (shark), tuere (blind eel/hagfish), kōkopu (native trout), tuaki (cockle), roroa (shellfish sp.), tio (oysters) and pāua were gathered. Since the 19th century the kaik at Ōtākou continues to be the main settlement in the area.

Upoko Edward Ellison’s submission to Otago Regional Council of 2011 details a significant number of named places on the coast and peninsula indicating a vast knowledge as well as historic and continual use of the wider harbour area. The awa Ōtākou / Otago Harbour was an ara tawhito for access to the north, south, and inland using waka hunua to tauraka waka to each mahika kai, and nohoaka.

Today, Kāi Tahu mana whenua is recognised over a large part of Te Wai Pounamu. Kāti Māmoe and Waitaha shared occupation are always acknowledged. The hapū Kai Te Pahi, Kāti Moki, and Kāti Taoka still maintain their presence and responsibility as kaitiaki in this region. A statutory acknowledgement exists for Te Tai o Arai Te Uru / Otago Coastal Marine Area of which Otago Harbour catchment / Te Riu o te Whāka o Otago, is a part. Ōtākou whanau continue to live at the kaik, and Ōtākou runaka hold multiple business interests in the area and wider Ōtepoti / Dunedin today.

European Settlement on the Otago Peninsula

Settlement on the peninsula saw sealers and whalers arrive in the early decade of the 19th century with a base established by the Weller Brothers at Wellers Rock in 1831. European settlement followed in the mid-19th century following the Kemp purchase of the Otago Block from Kāi Tahu in 1844 and the arrival of Scottish settlers in 1848. Dairy farming was the dominant style on the peninsula with the soils unsuitable for large scale cropping. There were creameries at Sandymount, Wickliffe Bay, Lower Portobello, Ōtākou, and Pukehiki and the first co-operative dairy factory was formed at John Mathieson’s Springfield farm in 1871. At its peak there were 30 dairy farms in the area, including a the kaik. Changing fortunes saw a move from dairying to sheep farming at the end of the 19th century. Other industries were trialled by these early settlers including flax milling, saw milling and lime burning – most were on a small scale enterprises and did not endure. No evidence has been found that indicates Māori were employed in the lime industry. By the late 1960s the small farms had been replaced by larger sheep grazing farms. The settler archaeological landscape is ‘strikingly intact and beautifully preserved, while the indigenous landscape underlying this is more difficult to encounter, but significant for the link to early occupation that it reveals.’ Signs can be seen in the remains of buildings, lime kilns, hundreds of archaeological sites and kilometres of drystone walls striating the landscape.

Lime burning

Lime burning was an early industry supplying the lime for mortar in brick and masonry construction and as a forerunner of Portland cement; the process has been understood and utilised for thousands of years. Lime burning was a foundation industry in the rise of New Zealand's pastoral and development economies. The need for this industry is supported entirely by the demand for burnt lime from which slaked lime was made for mortar; and the demand for agricultural lime, formed of burnt lime that was brittle and could be crushed to powder manually at a time when there were no (or very few) industrial machines that could grind limestone finely enough to be spread by hand. The burning of limestone results in the creation of Calcium Oxide, which when crushed and wet to a controlled dampness, Quicklime (Calcium Hydroxide) is produced. This is a long-life storable product and when mixed with more water and sand, mortar for brick and stone laying results.

Early lime kilns are still found in Otago and Canterbury, e.g., Kakahu Lime Kiln (List No. 315, Category 1), and Makareao Lime Works (Former) (List No. 4368, Category 1). Lime kilns declined in use after the discovery of good limestone and marl deposits led to the manufacture of Portland cement after 1884 and the advent of cement works. The earliest lime kilns in New Zealand were probably erected in Nelson in the early 1840s. The earliest in Otago were erected after 1849 at Kaikorai and Caversham, at Sandymount the lime burning industry began in the mid-1860s. Early European settlers that held the knowledge for the process of manufacturing lime through the burning of limestone, were drawn to this resource throughout the New Zealand colonial period. The area of Sandymount near Portobello on the Otago Peninsula was such an area, due to the abundance of premium quality limestone. The geological name for the limestone at Sandymount is the Waipuna Bay Formation, this unit being deposited in the mid-Miocene period. The band of limestone on the Otago Peninsula extends from Te Ahi Karoro / Seal Point across the Harbour to Dowling Bay. The band is approximately 800 metres wide and around 20-30 metres deep. Before a lime industry was established lime was procured by burning shells from the Lower Harbour with timber on the shore. Small kilns were constructed in Portobello, but not on a commercial scale. Several people were engaged in lime burning on the Peninsula although the scale of the work is difficult to determine.

The Lime Kilns at Sandymount

The kilns under consideration in this report were operating by the mid-late 1860s but the order in which they were constructed and who they were constructed by is unclear. The three stone-clad lime kilns at Sandymount near Portobello, are known historically as draw kilns, shaft kilns or pot kilns. These kiln types were designed with three compartments: the top section is the cylindrical charging bowl (or pot), where fist sized chunks of smashed limestone called ‘charge’ along with alternating layers of fuel was loaded through the opening in the top; the middle section held the ‘firebox’ or furnace(s), where fuel was added to burn the limestone, as well as regulating the airflow; the lowest section was the drawing eye where the lime was drawn from, along with waste such as ash, charcoal or failed lime (described as under or over baked).

The order in which these kilns were constructed is unclear. The top kiln was built on Walter Riddell’s property. Walter Riddell (1838-1920) and his wife Wilhelmina (Nee Glendinning) arrived on the Grasmere in 1862. They were the earliest European settler in the Sandymount area. Riddell kept a diary and recalls reaching their new home at Ivy Bank on Peggy’s Hill, Sandymount in 1864, ‘it took us ten days to carry our things through the bush (a mile [1.6 km]) from the end of the road’. A farmer and carpenter, Riddell like many settlers, spent time on his own land and that of his neighbours clearing bush, building houses and fences and planting edible crops. Riddell built the Pukehiki Church (List No. 7356). He was one of the founders of the Otago Peninsular Dairy Factory, and later a foreman at Larnach’s Castle (List No. 2190) where he built the hanging staircase. There is evidence in Riddell’s diary that he leased land to James McDonald in the years 1868 to 1870.

James McDonald (1840 - 1934), a journeyman mechanic from Scotland, arrived in Dunedin with his wife Isabella (nee Christie) in 1860 aboard the ship Pladda. McDonald was to become instrumental in the development of the cement industry in New Zealand. The development of McDonald’s lime burning operation at Sandymount, is documented in Riddell’s diary where he writes that McDonald was testing lime quarries in April of 1865, suggesting that McDonald had been testing lime from this outcrop prior to any settlement in the area. The testing of the limestone is believed to have been conducted in a small half lime kiln that was situated somewhere near Highcliff Road. The following month Riddell was helping McDonald ‘carry lime up from [the] kiln.’

The upper Sandymount lime kiln (I44/83)

Section 5 was owned by Walter Riddell who leased land to McDonald between 1868-1870. In 1909 part of section 5 was leased to the Taieri and Peninsula Milk Supply Company Ltd, together with the water use right over a spring on the property. It is likely that the upper kiln was constructed by William Dick (1837-1921), a local farmer and stonemason who is recorded as building the middle kiln. Knight describes this kiln as a two-section structure that had a 2 ft (60 cm) rail running from the mouth of the kiln to the stone foundations of a loading shed (presumably this was at the base). The top of the kiln was level with the quarry and a 2 ft (60 cm) rail track led to a loading platform. The kiln was the first to be built and operated until 1889 and was started up again 16 years later by Riddell. Cornelius Flint collected reminiscences from the community in the late 1970s and notes quarters for a workman were built into the structure for workmen who kept the fire burning (a small fireplace is observable in the eastern wall) and that the kiln was relined in the late 1920s.

‘It used to be quite a happening when the kiln was going to be lit. Everybody cut their hedges and thinned their trees out and the clippings were picked up by the kiln staff with horses and drays and put in the bottom of the kiln … it put out a most peculiar sour smell which could be recognised at a considerable distance.’

‘After each draw off the kiln was “Topped Up” again and it was kept going, sometimes for months and months, keeping three men working full time and resulting in approximately two tons of lime per day.’

The quarry was located behind the kiln which was across the road from Sandymount School (I44/446) and when blasting was planned the school was alerted to keep everyone inside. Flint notes, ‘In all the operations there was never a window broken, but some sheets of roofing iron had to be replaced at various times because a rock went through it, but nobody was ever hurt.’ Later, when quarrying was mechanised, a crusher was built and a truck was used to transport the limestone to the kiln which was lowered by 2 feet (60 cm) so it could dump the limestone directly into it. ‘The burnt lime was taken by dray up to the junction of Sandymount and the Highcliff Road. There was a large shed there, and it also housed a crusher’. The principal agent was Milburn Lime and Cement however lime was also sold to individuals to make paths, build walls. ‘When the crushing shed was full, the lime-burning stopped and the inferior limestone was crushed and then was used for maintain the roads about the area. Highcliff Road was done in one major operation to a depth of about 8”.’ In 1937 his tender for metalling the Highcliff Road was accepted for £141 ($17, 021). John Riddell (son of Walter) worked the lime kiln until 1938 under the name Riddell’s Hydraulic Lime Co. Ltd. The land remained in the Riddell family for some generations until it was subdivided in 1992.

The middle Sandymount lime kiln (I44/84)

In 1870 James McDonald purchased a section of waste land for £161 ($24, 703), money which he loaned from James Jones of Bristol, England where the middle kiln (I44/84) was built. McDonald likely purchased this land for the purpose of constructing a lime kiln close to the source. Knight reports that this kiln was constructed using tuff by William Dick around 1870-1872. Knight describes the kiln as being built from tuff, ‘A monumental construction this kiln was later described as ‘an outstanding example of the stonemason’s craft’. Knight describes this kiln as

‘massive and castle-like in appearance’. It measures 50 ft (15.2 m) x 28 ft (8.5 m) at the base and. The lower part is 27 ft (8.2 m) high on top of which is the kiln itself, another 23 ft (7 m) tapering from 17 ft (5.1 m) at the base to 14 ft (4.2 m) at the top, where there is a parapet and a bridge … to the quarry face for loading the limestone.’

This kiln was worked in a different method, only utilising wood for fuel and was heated by four furnaces ‘two big and two small ones. They are opposite each other in a big circle.’

A newspaper article from 1870 provides detail of the workings of what is likely to be the middle Sandymount lime kiln and offers remarks from McDonald himself on how the kiln operated along with information about the limestone they were quarrying. The author described ‘a beautiful wooded gorge leading up to the lime kilns’ and acknowledges the clearance of the land with the, ‘bush fast disappearing’ in preference for grazing. He observed the burning process and was provided a tour of the operations by McDonald. Stone was being quarried by blasting and the stone which was a ‘hard, dense and a greyish blue colour’, was broken into pieces with hammers. The kiln was described as 30 ft high (9.1 m) by 7 ft in diameter (2.1 m) built of limestone and lined with firebricks and able to turn out at least 150 bags a day.

In 1887, McDonald constructed a cement manufacturing plant at Walton Park in Dunedin, which was the first company in New Zealand to produce Portland Cement. The lime used to produce Portland Cement at the new plant, was taken from McDonald’s kilns at Milton and a hydraulic lime was sourced from the Otago Peninsula. Land title information indicates that the section 54 was owned by James McDonald in the 1870s and 1880s until he had financial trouble and the title was assigned to the Milburn Lime Company as official assignee in October 1888. Knight reports the kiln was not particularly successful and that the quarry did not produce stone of the quality that the upper kiln did. However, the Milburn Lime Company made repairs to the fireplaces and the eyes (collecting ports) and strengthened the charging bowl with iron bands.

Title was issued for section 54 Block III Otago Peninsula District to The Milburn Lime and Cement Company Limited in December 1935. In 1976 New Zealand Cement Holdings gifted the lime kiln, together with the adjacent limestone quarry to the Otago Peninsula Trust. Restoration work in the late 1970s was supported by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. The Dunedin City Council was also keen to encourage interpretation and public access to these significant historic sites. An article in the Evening Post described the ambitious plans for the site which included reconstructing the footbridge from the quarry to the top of the kiln where the charge was loaded, reroofing the cart shed and rebuilding the flooring the loading platform amongst other works to make the site safe and accessible to visitors.

The bottom Sandymount lime kiln (I44/85)

This kiln, which is the smallest of the three kilns, was operated by the Robertson brothers that lived nearby at Sandfly. William Robertson (1812- 1902) who arrived on the Silestra in 1860 settled at Sandfly on the Peninsula. He was a skilled stonemason and specialist in the macadam process of road surfacing but turned to lime burning, farming and flax milling. Knight notes that the lime burning was a successful business and was conducted under the Colonial Public Works scheme. His sons John and William Jnr also went into the business.

The kiln was constructed on the land of Robert Stewart (1836-1913) and exploited the same limestone outcrop as the two upper kilns. It is believed the kiln was fuelled by wood, with many of the roads made by the Robertson’s to gather wood still observable today. Unburnt coal is found in the tailings of (I44/85). It is of note, that Stewart named his farm Glenmore and there is historical reference to Glenmore Lime Kilns Peninsula, where the Robertson brothers who were producing ‘…the finest quality lime in Otago in any quantity’ in 1873. This suggests the Robertson’s were operating the bottom kiln by at least 1873, and that there was possibly more than one kiln on Stewart’s Glenmore Farm. A painting by Arthur Albert Bender titled, Glenmore Kilns, may provide more information if discovered.

There is a presumption by ‘expert lime burners’ that this was the last of the three kilns to be built, based on the way the hydraulic producing seam of limestone was outcropping at approximately a 45° dipping angle. The interpretation by these people, is that the top kiln was built first followed by the middle kiln and finally the bottom kiln. It is uncertain how they came to this conclusion, but from an economical perspective, the overburden or unwanted material may have been expensive to remove if quarrying from the bottom of the outcrop to the top. Another issue may have been the uncertainty of whether the hydraulic producing seam continued to the bottom of the outcrop, which became more evident as the overburden from the top of the outcrop was removed.

I44/447 Limestone Crushing Plant

While a date of construction is uncertain, the plant was owned by Walter Riddell’s son John who lived opposite the works in the Post Office house (I44/414). The shed was built here as it was one of the only flat pieces of land in the vicinity of the kilns. John burnt lime (also referred to as shell lime) from the quarry at the top kiln (I44/83) above Sandymount Road to be crushed at the plant. It was then carted to Pelichet Bay cement works. Cornelius Flint recorded that “when coal was required [for the top kiln], James Garr using an eight-horse team, took a load of lime to town and returned laden with coal from the Dunedin railyard.” This was Kaitangata coal supplied by Bruce Coal Co. Ltd. The crushing plant consisted of a large, corrugated iron shed with workshops and a hopper. Water on site provided for a steam engine and boiler. Flint records the workings of the plant:

“The shell-lime was taken to an unloading ramp on the Highcliff roadside of the shed; it then passed into a rotary crusher which ground it to about a quarter inch. It was then taken up by elevator into a bin on the side, from where it went by chute to a mill which ground it to a real powder. It was again elevated up to the two rotary sieves to remove any lumps of unburned lime … a large fan which blew the lime off … dropped to the ground. When there was a large enough heap, water was sprayed on the lime every 20 mins. Using a head with a ‘rose’ on it to cool it. This was all the slaking don to the lime here. It was then bagged.”

The engine was powered by Riddell’s Hydraulic Lime Company which was liquidated in 1939. When operations ceased the equipment was sold to the coal quarry at Blackhead. The limestone crushing factory was demolished in 1974.

Physical Description

Current Description

Setting

Like a rumpled duvet the landscape of the Otago Peninsula rises between the Otago Harbour and the Pacific Ocean. Described as ‘almost an island’, it is a striking pastoral landscape of hills, valleys and precipitous cliffs, striated with dry stone walls and subject to wind ‘nine days out of ten’ and known for its distinctive wind-shaped trees and clinging mists. Through the landscape near Peggy’s Hill runs a band of limestone that has been mined, leaving behind remnants of quarries and kilns. Sandymount presents a cluster of archaeological sites in close proximity, those associated with the lime industry sit alongside homes, a school, and scatter of farm buildings.

Sandymount kilns

I44/83 – Upper kiln and quarry

This site faces north adjacent to Sandymount Road and includes a tall limestone kiln set into the hillside with the drawing eye set back within deep curved abutments. The circular mouth of the kiln is at the top of the cliff, now close to level with the ground. A large, well excavated limestone quarry is located approximately 50 m behind kiln. An ammunition store is in a natural cave in limestone outcrop. Holes for joists can be seen in the interior of the large, curved abutment walls where a floor would have been, and in the eastern wall is the remains of a small fireplace, presumably for the comfort of workers. The kiln is constructed of large blocks of limestone run on course and lined with brick.

I44/84 – Middle kiln

The site includes a monumental limestone kiln and associated remains as well as a small limestone quarry to the west and a spoil pile to the west. The kiln is constructed of large blocks of limestone run on course and lined with brick. This impressive kiln consists of a three-section structure with restored tapered cylindrical tower with decorative brick arch, below which are limestone arches encompassing the furnace has four openings for firing, the drawing eye at the lower level is set back behind a further arch. The remains of small fireplaces are situated at ground level and the first level up for workers. A replacement bridge built in the late 1970s spans the huge curved crenelated abutments flanking the charging bowl. There is substantial cracking in the western abutment.

I44/81 – Tramway and loading platform site

Remains of a 2 ft (60 cm) rail track curves at a slight gradient from the quarry at the western end of the track to the site of the loading platform associated with the middle kiln I44/84. This is currently obscured by bush. While there is no discernible material associated with the tramway remains above ground the site is readable.

I44/447 - Limestone crushing plant

The concrete and stone foundations of the limestone crushing plant are located at the junction of Highcliff and Sandymount Roads. The foundations measure approximately 17 metres by 12 metres and remain in reasonable condition. The concrete floor and stone revetting remain.

I44/85 – Limestone Factory, kiln and quarry area (OT268/194)

Limestone factory. The site includes a three chambered kiln, a limestone quarry, a pile of discarded charge and a spoil pile. The following description was provided by Carl Murray who with Stuart Griffiths conducted a thorough condition report for the Hereweka / Harbour Cone Management Trust in 2019.

The bottom Sandymount lime kiln (I44/85) is the smallest of the three draw kilns and is in a bad state of ruin. The kiln stands approximately 5.8 m high, 5.3 m long and 2.1 m wide. The cladding of the structure is made from large, dressed blocks of limestone from the outcrop nearby. A lime-based mortar was used as the bedding and pointing mortar to bind the stonework. A mud or clay-based mortar was also noted to be used in the firebox section of the structure, possibly as a repair. At least two types of brick were used in the construction of the kiln: a large standard sized brick used on the outer support walls of the firebox or furnace, also being used in the inner chamber of the drawing eye; and a smaller firebrick inside the firebox, which is of a darker colour, and exhibits vitrification. Firebricks are interpreted to be used to line the inside of the kiln.

A limestone outcrop directly southwest of the kiln is interpreted to have been the main source of material used in the manufacture of lime. There is evidence of quarrying on this outcrop, with a clean vertically cut face, and evidence of blasting with large very angular boulders and cobbles nearby. Directly to the north of the kiln, is a cluster of limestone charge which is scattered down the hillside. This material is interpreted to be rejected from the kiln but offers an insight into the size of the chunks being burned as well as an example of the raw material being used as charge. Sampling of these fragments can be useful in isolating the source of the limestone. Approximately 25m northeast of the kiln, is an ash dump which contains discard from the kiln.

Current Description

Setting

Like a rumpled duvet the landscape of the Otago Peninsula rises between the Otago Harbour and the Pacific Ocean. Described as ‘almost an island’, it is a striking pastoral landscape of hills, valleys and precipitous cliffs, striated with dry stone walls and subject to wind ‘nine days out of ten’ and known for its distinctive wind-shaped trees and clinging mists. Through the landscape near Peggy’s Hill runs a band of limestone that has been mined, leaving behind remnants of quarries and kilns. Sandymount presents a cluster of archaeological sites in close proximity, those associated with the lime industry sit alongside homes, a school, and scatter of farm buildings.

Sandymount kilns

I44/83 – Upper kiln and quarry

This site faces north adjacent to Sandymount Road and includes a tall limestone kiln set into the hillside with the drawing eye set back within deep curved abutments. The circular mouth of the kiln is at the top of the cliff, now close to level with the ground. A large, well excavated limestone quarry is located approximately 50 m behind kiln. An ammunition store is in a natural cave in limestone outcrop. Holes for joists can be seen in the interior of the large, curved abutment walls where a floor would have been, and in the eastern wall is the remains of a small fireplace, presumably for the comfort of workers. The kiln is constructed of large blocks of limestone run on course and lined with brick.

I44/84 – Middle kiln

The site includes a monumental limestone kiln and associated remains as well as a small limestone quarry to the west and a spoil pile to the west. The kiln is constructed of large blocks of limestone run on course and lined with brick. This impressive kiln consists of a three-section structure with restored tapered cylindrical tower with decorative brick arch, below which are limestone arches encompassing the furnace has four openings for firing, the drawing eye at the lower level is set back behind a further arch. The remains of small fireplaces are situated at ground level and the first level up for workers. A replacement bridge built in the late 1970s spans the huge curved crenelated abutments flanking the charging bowl. There is substantial cracking in the western abutment.

I44/81 – Tramway and loading platform site

Remains of a 2 ft (60 cm) rail track curves at a slight gradient from the quarry at the western end of the track to the site of the loading platform associated with the middle kiln I44/84. This is currently obscured by bush. While there is no discernible material associated with the tramway remains above ground the site is readable.

I44/447 - Limestone crushing plant

The concrete and stone foundations of the limestone crushing plant are located at the junction of Highcliff and Sandymount Roads. The foundations measure approximately 17 metres by 12 metres and remain in reasonable condition. The concrete floor and stone revetting remain.

I44/85 – Limestone Factory, kiln and quarry area (OT268/194)

Limestone factory. The site includes a three chambered kiln, a limestone quarry, a pile of discarded charge and a spoil pile. The following description was provided by Carl Murray who with Stuart Griffiths conducted a thorough condition report for the Hereweka / Harbour Cone Management Trust in 2019.

The bottom Sandymount lime kiln (I44/85) is the smallest of the three draw kilns and is in a bad state of ruin. The kiln stands approximately 5.8 m high, 5.3 m long and 2.1 m wide. The cladding of the structure is made from large, dressed blocks of limestone from the outcrop nearby. A lime-based mortar was used as the bedding and pointing mortar to bind the stonework. A mud or clay-based mortar was also noted to be used in the firebox section of the structure, possibly as a repair. At least two types of brick were used in the construction of the kiln: a large standard sized brick used on the outer support walls of the firebox or furnace, also being used in the inner chamber of the drawing eye; and a smaller firebrick inside the firebox, which is of a darker colour, and exhibits vitrification. Firebricks are interpreted to be used to line the inside of the kiln.

A limestone outcrop directly southwest of the kiln is interpreted to have been the main source of material used in the manufacture of lime. There is evidence of quarrying on this outcrop, with a clean vertically cut face, and evidence of blasting with large very angular boulders and cobbles nearby. Directly to the north of the kiln, is a cluster of limestone charge which is scattered down the hillside. This material is interpreted to be rejected from the kiln but offers an insight into the size of the chunks being burned as well as an example of the raw material being used as charge. Sampling of these fragments can be useful in isolating the source of the limestone. Approximately 25m northeast of the kiln, is an ash dump which contains discard from the kiln.

Comparative analysis

Makareao Lime Works (Former) (List No. 4368, Category 1)

The Makareao Lime Works in Inch Valley near Dunback is a complex of three pot kilns and an impressive brick Schmatolla kiln. This complex dates to 1898 and was instigated by the government of the time and construction was overseen by the public works department. The kilns were inefficient and dogged by tragedy however and like the Sandymount kilns were eventually taken over in 1909 by the Milburn Lime and Cement Company (Milburn Company). This site had a great focus on agricultural lime and was more mechanised than the Sandymount complex which were smaller operations.

Walker and McDougall Lime Kiln Complex, Kakahu (List No. 7613, Category 2)

The Walker and McDougall complex in Canterbury is of a similar style and is built into a steep hillside and operated over a similar period in the late 19th and early 20th century. While the complex includes associated accommodation and stabling which the Sandymount complex does not have, the Sandymount kilns are of a significant quality and include associated remains that add to the understanding of lime burning.

Kakahu Lime Kiln (List No. 315, Category 1)

The Kakahu kiln near Geraldine was built around 1876 and is most similar in style to the Sandymount pot kilns. Like the Sandymount kilns it was built into the hillside but also had a freestanding pot like the middle kiln which would have a ramp for loading lime into the mouth of the pot.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1865 -

Other
1975 - 1980
Restoration project (of kiln on Section 54).

Original Construction
1868 - 1870
Upper kiln (I44/83) constructed

Original Construction
1870 - 1872
Middle kiln (I44/84) constructed

Restoration
1889 -
Middle kiln – fireplaces and eyes repaired, iron hoops added

Modification
-
Upper Kiln mouth reduced by 2 ft

Maintenance/repairs
-
Upper Kiln relined with brick

Demolished - additional building on site
1974 -
Limestone crushing plant (I44/447) demolished

Restoration
1979 -
Middle Kiln (I44/84) restoration

Construction Details

Brick, Limestone, Marl Trachyte, Trachytic tuff, Mortar, Iron, Corrugated iron

On section 54 the kiln consists of a three section structure built of basalt stone with sandbrick arches to the fireplaces, and girdled with iron hoops. The parapet has two grooves set in it to take a wooden bridge set across from the face of the limestone cliff which has been quarried. This kiln consists of a tapered stone circular tower with arched fireplaces of brick. The tower base has four openings for firing, while on the lower level there is a large tunnel which was used for the removal of the burnt lime and which has elaborately curved flanking abutments and retaining walls of limestone.

On what was section 5 (now Pt Lot 1 DP 22451) the kiln consists of a two section structure. A 2 foot rail runs from the mouth of the kiln to the stone foundations of a loading shed. At the level of the kiln top there is a heavy bedplate for an engine. The floor of the quarry is level with the top of the kiln, to which access can be directly made for filling. There is a two foot rail track to a loading platform.

Public NZAA Number

I44/84

I44/83

I44/85

I44/447

I44/81

Completion Date

29th July 2022

Report Written By

Sarah Gallagher and Carl Murray

Information Sources

Knight, 1979

Knight, Hardwicke Otago Peninsula, Broad Bay, Dunedin, 1979

New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust

New Zealand's Industrial Past: Papers presented at a Seminar on Industrial Archaeology in New Zealand, Christchurch 29-30 March 1983

Taylor, 1952

W A Taylor, Lore and History of the South Island Maori, Christchurch, 1952

Thornton, 1982

Geoffrey G. Thornton, New Zealand's Industrial Heritage, A.H. & A.W. Reed, Wellington, 1982

Thornton, 1982

Geoffrey G. Thornton, New Zealand's Industrial Heritage, A.H. & A.W. Reed, Wellington, 1982

Bishop, P., Cuenca-Garcia, C., Jones, R. and Cook, D., 2017

Bishop, P., Cuenca-Garcia, C., Jones, R. and Cook, D., Lime Burning in Clamp Kilns in Scotland's Western Central Belt: Primitive Industry or Simple but Perfectly Adequate Technology? Industrial Archaeology Review, 2017, 39:1, 38-58, DOI: 10.1080/03090728.2017. 1292642

Hereweka/Harbour Cone Management Plan, May 2012

Dunedin City Council., Hereweka/Harbour Cone Management Plan, May 2012 https://www.dunedin.govt.nz/council/policies,-plans-and-strategies/plans/herewekaharbour-cone-management-plan

Ireland, 2014

Ireland, C., Willful and Wonderful: The History of the McDonald Family, 2014 https://issuu.com/charlie_ireland/docs/mcdonald_family-digital

Knight, 1979

Knight, Hardwicke., "Sandymount Robertson's Enterprises" typescript, 11/10/1973, Dunedin Office File: 12020-011.

King, 1958

King, L.J., ‘The Agricultural Lime Industry of the South Island’, New Zealand Geographer, Vol. 14 No.2 1958, 115-130.

Limestone Kilns Public Access Proposal Documents

Limestone Kilns Public Access Proposal Documents DEV100, 55 Sandymount Road, Portobello, 1975. Dunedin City Council Archives.

Middleton, 2012

Middleton, Angela., ‘Hereweka/Harbour Cone: A Relict Landscape on the Otago Peninsula,’ Australasian Historical Archaeology, 30, 2012, 34-42.

Murray and Griffiths, 2019

Murray, Carl and Griffiths, Stuart., Condition Report: The First Lime Kiln on Otago Peninsula, Report for Hereweka/Harbour Cone Management Trust, March 2019 https://hereweka.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/lime-kiln.pdf

Palmer and Neaverson, 1998

Palmer, Marilyn and Neaverson, Peter., Industrial Archaeology: Principles and Practice, Routledge, London, 1998.

Riddell, 1962

Riddell, W. Walter Riddell’s Diary: March 28th 1865 to September 30th 1871. Sandymount Otago Peninsula, 1962. Typescript. McNab Collection, Dunedin Public Library.

West, 2009

West, J. L., An environmental history of the Otago Peninsula: dialectics of ecological and cultural change from first settlement to 1900 (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy). University of Otago, 2009. http://hdl.handle.net/10523/3538

West, 2017

West, Jonathan., The Face of Nature: An environmental history of the Otago Peninsula, Otago University Press, Dunedin, 2017

Other Information

A fully referenced copy of the listing report is available on request from the Otago/Southland Office of Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga

Disclaimer

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.

Archaeological sites are protected by the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014, regardless of whether they are entered on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero or not. Archaeological sites include ‘places associated with pre-1900 human activity, where there may be evidence relating to the history of New Zealand’. This List entry report should not be read as a statement on whether or not the archaeological provisions of the Act apply to the property (s) concerned. Please contact your local Heritage New Zealand office for archaeological advice.